Mary Magdalene Runs and Tells the Disciples that the Body of Christ is No Longer in the Tomb, Tissot c.1894, The Brooklyn Museum, New York City, USA.

Click here to read today’s Sunday Mass Readings.

After Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying…       Acts 1:12-13.

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Now note that extract from today’s first reading from today’s Scripture. After the departure, the Ascension,  of Jesus, they did NOT go spreading the word of salvation, they did NOT preach on the street corners, they did NOT go straight to the Temple to denounce the crucifixion of the Lord and pronounce him the Son of God. They simply crawled back to the “Upper Room” and hid. You could say the entire Christian Church was crammed into a single space awaiting the fate that their Lord had endured, and, not surprisingly, were terrified. Indeed, the gospel of John states quite clearly that they were behind locked doors – and he says it twice! In effect, there was no Christian Church at all, just a bunch of people who were understandably more interested in preserving their own skin than in anything else. And who could blame them? They were clearly not in the state of mind so boldly and clearly stated in today’s second reading, “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly”. Today’s gospel seems to show that Jesus was aware of their state of mind as he prayed to his Father, “Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. As well he might! He knew full well that they were “in the world” as he says, with all that that implies.

Clearly all this is setting the stage for one great happening, without which we would not be Christian today, there would be no Church, no teaching of love and no knowledge of eternal happiness resulting from that. In fact, the only positive thing they seem to have done is replace he treacherous Judas with Matthias. A friend of mine once said that they replaced him with another man, not a woman, as they had not yet received the Spirit of God! Just a provocative thought.

And there we have to leave them, shivering away, crammed together, fearing the absolute worse, as I suspect most of us would be too, waiting for the banging on the door in the middle of the night. Heavens, they needed help! All of Jesus’ mission had been handed over to their care. All of it was in critical danger of being lost forever. This was utterly understandable, so something was needed; something instantaneous, permanent and inexplicable (the Church’s definition of a miracle).

The supposed Cenacle, or Upper Room, Jerusalem, Israel.

Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.

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